Top Notch demonstrated the best of his battling abilities and showed plenty of heart to claim a second Fitzdares Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.
After claiming the Grade Two prize in 2017 when it was transferred to Taunton, the Nicky Henderson-trained eight-year-old joined an elite list of dual winners of the two-and-a-half-mile contest when following up his comeback win at Aintree over hurdles last month.
Passing long-time leader La Bague Au Roi going over the penultimate fence, the 15-8 favourite dug deep after the last to repel the late challenge of outsider of the field Kauto Riko by three-quarters of a length.
Henderson said: “It is great that he has come back and won this. If the general election was this morning this fellow would be Prime Minister because everybody just loves him.
“If you said what is the most popular stalwart in the place – I know there are better horses – this fellow would be the one, as he doesn’t know how to do anything wrong.
“You can go hurdling, you can go three miles or two miles, but you wouldn’t find a nicer person.
“You only need 10 horses like him and I’d love life.
“He has been placed in a Triumph Hurdle and he never looked remotely like a steeplechaser as he is not big enough, but he has just got a heart of gold.
“They had gone hard which suits, as he stays. He had a tongue tie on him today as Nico (de Boinville) thought at Aintree he was a little bit raspy.
“He had worn a tongue tie at home, but he wasn’t sure about it early in the race and he wasn’t quite facing it. He is like a terrier and as soon as the scrap starts we are in good shape. If we can smell the rat he will get there.”
The Lambourn handler earmarked the recently-upgraded Grade Two Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton next month as the next port of call for Top Notch, who was cut from 25-1 into 14-1 for the Ryanair Chase by Paddy Power, while Fitzdares went 12-1 for the same race.
Henderson added: “That’s a good enough race (Silviniaco Conti) for him, but we will work him and see how he is and he will tell us where he wants to go.”
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